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Issue 83
September 1, 2004
September 1, 2004 Newsletter
Featuring Roger Siglin

The Big Bend Regional Sierra Club invites members, guests, and other interested persons to attend the September 16th meeting at 7 p.m., in Room 200 Lawrence Hall.

Roger Siglin, longtime Sierra Club member, formerly Superintendent of Gateway to the Arctic National Park but now permanently living south of Alpine, will give a slideshow talk on his adventure in climbing Mt. Denali (Mt. McKinley). Steve Ulvi, writing in the October 14, 1994 edition of The Northern Line, says that Roger “is blessed with endurance and a rapid return to a resting pulse rate even in the thin atmosphere above 18, 000 feet . . . .” The Denali climb on the Muldrow Glacier route involved some close calls from probing gaping crevasses. They were eventually forced to challenge the mountain and themselves by a different route, the popular West Buttress route. Roger and his hiking companions eventually made the summit in six and one half days, climbing the last 150 yards traversing a 12-inch crusted spine falling off 9,000 feet on the south face and 1,000 on the other. Roger says, “He likes to live life at the edge,” and he has managed to do so a number of times. Come join us as he shows and tells us his adventure in climbing Denali. See below the Introducing Members section of this newsletter to read a piece written by his wife, Jackie, and himself that focuses on him, his outdoor life and Jackie and his decision to move back to the Big Bend Region.

PLEASE NOTE THE ROOM CHANGE. That’s the second floor of Lawrence Hall, the building at which we are accustomed to meet.

FALL PROGRAMS: October 21, 2004: Don Dowdey will lead a discussion on the direction of the local group and what we must do to continue with our important environmental activities. November 18, 2004: Tom “Smitty” Smith, head of the Public Citizen for Texas, will discuss wind power. Last legislative session, the organization introduced several bills and Smith will discuss plans for the next session. December 16, 2004: BBRSC will hold its annual Christmas party. If someone would like to put together a short slide show for it, please call Fran Sage at (432) 364-2362 or e-mail her at sage@brooksdata.net


Eighteen years of Alaskan cold was enough for Roger Siglin and his wife, Jackie. This June after two years of commuting 4500 miles between their home in Fairbanks and their new home in North Double Diamond, they decided to become permanent Texans. Roger first saw the Big Bend country in 1966 when he was stationed as a ranger with the National Park Service at Big Bend National Park.

In the fall of 2002, after 10 years of retirement, he was offered a temporary job with Texas State Parks in the new Chianti Mountains State Natural Area. It only took three months of West Texas living to convince him he had found paradise once again. Roger had a 27 year career with the National Park Service. His last job was as the Superintendent of Gates of the Arctic National Park, an 8.5 million acre wilderness park north of the Arctic Circle.

While he was Superintendent, he backpacked 900 miles cross country in the park.
A fan of arctic exploration, he knew he wanted to see the high arctic in spring. Traveling with several friends over the past twelve years, he has ridden 18,000 miles by snowmobile. He has traveled the width of North America above the Arctic Circle, has seen the Russian mainland from Wales, Alaska, and was within 400 miles of Greenland on the east coast of Canada. Their longest journey was 3400 miles which crossed no roads except for isolated networks in small villages.

Their travel has taken them through the Canadian Barrens and 1000 miles down the east coast of Baffin Island. Arctic travel came late in his adventure career. Before that he was a hiker and a mountaineer. He has climbed extensively in the western United States and at the age of 47 climbed his first high snow and ice mountain in Peru. He has summited Aconcagua in Argentina, Mt. McKinley in Alaska, Mt. Blanc on the border of France and Italy, and several peaks in Peru and Bolivia. He has attempted peaks in Nepal and Tibet. This winter he has been invited to climb Ojos Del Salado in Chile. At 22,600 ft. it is the 2nd highest mountain in the western hemisphere, but he is not sure he wants to leave Texas to see it.


One night a few weeks ago I was sitting outside about sundown when I looked up and there was a gray fox staring at me. We stared at one another for a few seconds and then he moved on. In those brief seconds I was struck by how intelligent the fox appeared to be. His intelligence is highly respected. He is always the wily character in the tales and fables of many lands and we are taught to respect his astuteness.

I have seen a number of foxes this summer, shadowy figures that move quietly through the darkness and I attribute their increased number to the lack of coyotes in the area. When the coyotes were plentiful, I rarely saw a fox.

The gray fox is the only member of the dog family that climbs trees. He will frequently climb if pursued by dogs and in Central Texas (where there are trees) he has been found living in a hollow oak tree, thirty feet above the ground. He climbs the tree, much as a Polynesian native scales a coconut palm. He grabs the trunk with his front paws and pushes up with hind legs.

The gray fox does not have the range of the red fox but he is found in all but the northeastern part of the U. S. and is found in all four deserts.

He usually constructs a den under rocks, in underground burrows or in hollow logs or trees. Underground burrows have been found fifty feet in length with many exits and side chambers. The fox often has to move to new chambers because of fleas.

The gray fox inhabits wooded areas, brush country, rocky and broken terrain and here in the desert prefers the juniper-pinyon country above the lower desert. In recent years he has also moved into some cities where he seems to do quite well.

I believe that any animal that lives in the desert will eat almost anything. The Parks and Wildlife Department examined the stomach contents of the foxes and found cotton tails, rats, gophers, mice, grasshopper, doves, quail, sparrows, blackbirds, persimmons and acorns. There was no mention of berries but judging from the scat I see on the roads, I’m sure they eat juniper berries. Had they examined stomach contents on the South Double Diamond, they would also have found hot dogs as two of my neighbors serve them daily.

The normal fox family consists of two adults and from three to six young (kits). The mating season is from December to March and the young are born in April or May, after a gestation period of about 53 days. The kits are born blind and helpless but their eyes open in ten to fourteen days; they begin to eat solid foods by six weeks and they are independent at four months. The adult male feeds them solid food until they can function on their own.

Two people here told me about the beautiful red foxes they have seen in this area but I am very skeptical as the gray fox has a lot of red on its legs and sides and is much more common. One way to tell is the red fox has a white tip on its tail and the tip of the gray fox’s tail is black or gray. Both are about the same size averaging six to eleven pounds in weight; however, the gray fox can weigh up to sixteen pounds.

Although I have learned many facts about the fox, I realize I can never be any part of the reality of the fox. True, I could throw out some food, but I would never penetrate the absolute “otherness” of this beautiful animal. But just seeing him will have to be sufficient.


Volunteer opportunities with the Big Bend Regional Sierra Club

The success of the summer social and silent auction described elsewhere in the newsletter shows the dedication of many of our members to volunteer their time and effort for BBRSC. Especially since I wasn't able to do a lot toward the planning, I want to extend my personal thanks to everyone who helped make the event a rousing success!

There are other volunteer opportunities available for interested members. In addition to the need for help with the newsletter when Fran steps down as editor in December, we have organizational and issues committees that could use your help. If you are interested in helping with any of these activities, you can contact me by phone (837-3210), email (ddowdey@wildblue.net), or at a meeting. Don't feel you have to do everything on a committee -- for example, if you'd be willing to coordinate refreshments for meetings, let me know!

Organizational Committees:

Program Committee: Duties involve contacting potential interesting speakers for meetings, setting up the speaker schedule, obtaining information on the speakers and their talks, coordinating equipment set-up (that usually means letting me know what's needed), scheduling a room at Sul Ross, and arranging refreshments. This is a job that Fran has helped with a lot. It is a great way to meet interesting people and to contribute significantly to the work of the BBRSC. If this sounds like a job you can do, we are looking for you!!

Calendar Sales: Order calendars from the National Sierra Club, keep track of sales, collect money, etc. This has been a major source of income for us the last few years, and Ginny Campbell, who has been doing it, would love to help a new volunteer take over.

Newsletter: With Fran stepping down, we need help here. Duties include copying, addressing, and mailing each issue. Could you write regular or one time articles? Or interview members for "meet a member" articles? Could you help format the newsletter on your computer (the club has the software)? Could you serve as editor and coordinate putting the newsletter together, write articles and filler as needed?

Outings: We really could use some interested people to restart our Outings program. The National Sierra Club offers lots of help. Even if you don't want to be a leader (which requires qualifying in First Aid and CPR), you could help with planning events, keeping up with changing rules from National, and publicity, for example. I've always thought a strong Outings program could be a good outreach tool for BBRSC.

Membership: It would be great to have folks who could help with meeting and greeting at meetings, contact new members or attendees by phone or mail, help with outreach at local events, etc. I'm sure Lue Hirsch, our membership chair, would welcome your help.

Issue Committees: We currently have committees on Air Quality, Recycling, Water, La Entrada (Mexican trucks), and Radioactive Waste. All of them could use help in researching the issues (reading newspapers, email lists, web sites, etc.); contacting appropriate officials, writing letters to newspapers or articles for our newsletter, making announcements at meetings of upcoming issues, or just holding a meeting at your house!

Let me know if you can help!


Dear Sierra Club members,

Jim and I and six other members founded the Big Bend Regional Sierra Club nine years ago. Since then we have grown to 131 members from Alpine, Big Bend National Park, Ft. Davis, Ft. Stockton, Marathon, Marfa, Presidio, Sanderson, and Terlingua. Over the years a number of members have been active in the Group and we have been able to bring awareness and activity to make our organization successful. Don has reviewed above the types of activity we need more members involved with. I have enjoyed and been enriched by serving in various positions over the years and have always been the editor of the newsletter.

At one time I wrote it all (and it was shorter) but we have been fortunate to expand to a variety of writers each month, which I think makes for more interest, information, and voices. Don has been writing a column since he became chair some years ago. Jim Sage has been writing nature pieces rooted in his personal experiences for several years. We have had pieces, sometimes from non-members on various specialties of theirs. We have had member profiles and this last year or so, a column called Introducing Members. Lue Hirsch has been formatting the newsletter, providing a handsome format with pictures, and Bob Patterson created our website several years ago.

I have liked being so deeply involved with the newsletter, but I am tired now and would like to decrease my involvement in its production (February through May, July, and September through December—nine months a year). I would still like to write some environmental pieces and if desired suggest some interesting items. What I need to give up is the editing of the newsletter. WE NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE ON THIS JOB. I will no longer be editor after the December issue. The absolutely necesary item that must go out before each meeting is the program announcement. We could, of course, send out a postcard, or put out a one sheet announcement. But we would lose what I believe is another important aspect of the newsletter, keeping the membership and others up to date on important environmental issues affecting the area and our activity in them. We are a far-flung organization and many of our members are unable to come to the meetings. We need to communicate with each other through a common mailing. The newsletter serves that purpose. Beyond that we have had information on some aspects of the Big Bend, which we hope have been useful and enjoyable.

I hope that someone will step forward and try editing the newspaper. I can tell you that sometimes there are frustrations but more frequently there are the pleasures of shaping the flow of information. We are known, small as we are in a large state with a sizable number of Sierra Club members, as a force. While the El Paso SC Group is active, it is part of the New Mexico Chapter. Ours is the only Group in West Texas, which is part of the Lone Star Chapter. We need to continue our influence, not only upon the activities of the state organization but upon our role speaking out on West Texas environmental issues in the legislature. The newsletter provides a vehicle for uniting us.



Don Dowdey, chair, announces that the BBRSC’s Executive Committee has sent $300 to the Big Bend Air Quality Group to help in its attempt to stop the U. S. Clay Plant just east of Alpine from proceeding to build a rock crushing plant, recently permitted under an exemption provision of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s permitting process. The Big Bend Air Quality Group has had a successful fundraiser in the community. Its lawyer, Rick Lowerre, an environmental lawyer from Austin, has filed a petition in the 345th District Court in Travis County to overturn the recent permit by rule issued by the TCEQ. No building is allowed under a temporary restraining order. A hearing has been scheduled, though it has been postponed several times, to decide whether to grant a temporary injunction which would hold until the suit is resolved. The owner of Sierra La Rana rural development has filed suit. The outcome on both suits is unknown as we go to the press.


We have had some progress on the recycling front. Big Bend Regional Recyclers has over 250 names on a list of recycling supporters in the tri-county area. This very substantial list gets us one step closer to a regional recycling program, but is not an end in itself. Every time I throw away another aluminum can in the trash, I try to think of what we can do to get our program off the ground and running. As I was told recently by a local elected official, "patience and persistence will pay off." Let's hope that we can persist to convince our elected officials that this is a
priority for local residents!

Our group has been following up with Judge Beard and other elected officials to hear if they have determined a budget for the recycling program, as they promised to do in our May meeting. In the near future we might ask recycling supporters to send their county judge and/or city mayor a letter in support of recycling. As soon as we hear if any progress has been made, we'd like to invite folks who are serious about recycling to chat about what they would like to see in a regional recycling program, and how they think we can achieve this goal. Additionally, once we have an idea about the budget, we would like to start fundraising for capital and staff costs that the program will incur. We'll hopefully put on a local event for the cause. We'll keep you posted on these and other issues that come up!

If you are not yet part of the Big Bend Regional Recyclers email list, please email jeannesinclair@sbcglobal.net to join! Be sure to email us if you have any ideas or suggestions, too.


I feel a little like Charlie Brown in the fall when Lucy holds the football one more time, promising not to remove it and then pulls it away just as he rushes to kick it. But I am hoping this time that the report will be released in September. It has now been so long that some of you new to the area (in the last five years) may not know about it. The Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, and the Texas Commission on Environment Quality funded a field study and analyses on the air pollutants being brought into Big Bend National Park from distances some hundreds of miles away. We will learn the sources and amounts being generated.

The key to having the study make any difference will be that something changes for the better because of the study. When the agencies come out here (yes, supposedly that will happen), the key question is “What will you being doing to improve the air quality now that you have the scientific study done?” We must press for action. Keep looking for the announcement of when they will be here.


Many thanks to the Mules of Presidio band, Criss Cessac, Dennis Grevsky, Gary Oliver, and Jeanne Sinclair for their usual rousing performance. And thanks to all the food contributors. Great food!
Special thanks to Donna and John Ehrke, Barbara Novovitch, Linda Hedges,
Ginny Campbell, and Scott May for all their time and effort! Thanks to Luanne Hirsch for sending out the reminder notices.

Because of the exceptional generosity of businesses in the tri-county area, our supportive members, and the hard work by those who solicited donations, the Big Bend Regional Sierra Club raised over $1100 in our silent auction this past weekend. We are pleased that these funds will be used locally for education and action on environmental issues that affect the Big Bend region.

We do appreciate the business and individual donors of the 2004 Silent Auction:

ALPINE: Croft Ryu School of Martial Arts, McDonald's, Re-Reads Bookstore, Ashby and Allison Fine Art Galleries, Quetzal, Front Street Books, B Dazzled, Ivey's Emporium,
Avalon, One Way Plant Nursery, Alpine Native Plant Nursery, Morrison True Value, Pueblo Nuevo, Purple Cactus Massage, La Tapatia Restaurant, Flowers at 6th, Bread & Breakfast Cafe, B&B Restaurant at the Holland Hotel, Reata, Bikeman, 6th Street Bakery, Twin Peaks Restaurant, A Cut Above Fitness Club, Americana Salon, Clay Creations, Divided by Zero;

FORT DAVIS: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Nature Conservancy;

MARATHON: Ginny Campbell, Eve's Garden, Desert Moon, Johnny B's, Cottonwood Station, Abby Levine, 4-Bar Outfitters, Purple Sage Antiques, Captain Shepard's Inn, Marathon Coffee Shop, Sotol Gallery, Marathon Motel, and Nectar Computers;

MARFA: Moonlight Gemstones, Marfa Book Company, Scott's Services, Maiya's, Ballroom Marfa, Pizza Foundation; and

TERLINGUA: Big Bend Gazette.

PLEASE HELP GINNY CAMPBELL!!!! She has raised sizable sums of money through her calendar sales over the last several years. Ginny has been in the BBRSC practically from day one. She has been treasurer since the beginning and has always pitched in to help wherever needed. Ginny too needs help in continuing our important fundraising work. We have had a great fundraising effort with the silent auction and in past years through calendar sales. Please contact her at jokeambl@speedexpress.net or call her right away at (432) 386-4526 and say what you are willing to do. We need the money from calendar sales to meet our income needs


New Members: The most recent new or transfer in or renewed members are: Shanna Cowell Hickle of Terlingua; Jim Case, Jean Hamilton Gorby and Tony Lujan of Alpine; and James F. Martin of Marfa. Welcome, and we hope to see you at the next meeting.

Highway Clean-up: The cooler weather is fast approaching and with it will be the opportunity to help pick up our designated 2-mile stretch of highway! Please put Saturday, September 18th on your calendar and plan on joining me in the highway clean up! Since there is visitor parking on the west side of Lawrence Hall, we’ll meet at Lawrence Hall West parking lot at 9:00AM and car pool to the clean up area which is located east of the junction of Hwy 90 and Hwy 67 and just beyond the entrance to the land fill. We’ll be back in Alpine before Noon. See you on September 18th!

Membership Renewal: If you wish to renew a membership or become a member you can do so online. The address for renewal is
https://ww2.sierraclub.org/membership/renewal/. The new membership address is https://ww2.sierraclub.org/membership/specialoffer/member1.asp.

Financial News: Ginny Campbell, Treasurer, reports $80 in pledges or donations from May to August 19th; $10 sale, $210.50 from the Super FRIP membership program with the national and the Lone Star Chapter Subvention for a total of $200.50 and a year to date’s total of $689.50. In addition with the $1100+ total from the Silent Auction fundraiser the year’s total is approximately $1789.50.

Don Dowdey, BBRSC chair, announces that Bennye Meredith, Jim Sage, and Jeanne Sinclair have agreed to serve on the Nominating Committee for the fall election of next year’s Executive Committee [ExCom]. The terms of Don Dowdey, Scott May, and Barbara Novovitch expire at the end of this year. All ExCom terms are for two years. [Reminder: the members elect the ExCom and the ExCom chooses the BBRSC officers from the ExCom members.] The ExCom consists of five members in good standing. Two are being carried over from last term. The Committee must bring forward its nominees by October 1, 2004. The Nominating Committee invites members to nominate themselves or other members (please get permission of the member first). These must be submitted by September 28th to Jim Sage, P. O. Box 564, Alpine, TX or (432) 364-2362 [a local call from Alpine]. The Nominating Committee will then announce the nominees in the October newsletter. It may nominate additional candidates if available. If a willing candidate is not nominated, then the Nominating Committee “shall promptly inform that candidate of the opportunity to seek nomination by petition.” The name of ANY BBRSC member (with permission of member) proposed in writing by at least 15 members prior to the deadline for the ballots, this year October 25th, will appear on the ballots. All candidates, both from nominating committee and from petition, should prepare a brief statement on their experience and why they wish to serve. The ballots will go out with the November newsletter, and will be due back to the Election Committee by December 13th.